Update December 19: Herald Mail milking the story for all its worth, here.
Update December 10: Not much new but the Herald Mail has a new story, here.
Update November 30: The plot thickens as expense reports show no payment for robocall, here.
Update November 24: Complaint goes to prosecutor’s office, here.
Update November 13: Still no answer to who paid for the robocall, here. Note there are two links in that post to new reports from the Herald Mail on the story.
Update November 12: No further news on who was behind the anti-Aleshire robocall, here.
Those dirty trick robocalls are not only tainting the 2010 gubernatorial campaign of Robert Ehrlich, here, but now Washington County, where I live, has our own robocall controversy.
This is a top of the front page story from yesterday’s Hagerstown Herald-Mail. I had waited until today to post it in hopes that more answers to troubling questions would be reported. I don’t see anything new this morning.
For readers outside of Washington County, Kristin Aleshire was the only Democrat running for his seat on the Board of County Commissioners. He was considered a careful, quiet, dedicated public servant famous for studying the budget line by line and questioning expenditures like a good Republican should do. It was then a shock to all of us Tea Party-minded people who voted for Aleshire to see that he lost his seat and that some Republicans had orchestrated a highly questionable robocall the day before the election—questionable because the authority was supposed to have been given by the Republican Central Committee, but members said they had not given approval for the call.
The Herald Mail:
The Maryland Attorney General’s Office has been asked to investigate a last-minute robocall attack ad against Washington County Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire, who was defeated in his bid for re-election.
The end of the automated message — which went to voters on Nov. 1, the day before the election — said the Washington County Republican Central Committee paid for it.
However, two Republican Central Committee officials say the committee wasn’t behind the ad, and they want to know who made it.
Paula Lampton, the outgoing chairwoman of the GOP committee, said the panel didn’t authorize the ad.
No decision (that we know of) to investigate, but woe to those responsible if they do:
Raquel Guillory, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said Tuesday that her office hasn’t decided whether to investigate.
State law requires candidates and groups to identify themselves with “authority lines” in political ads and other messages, including automated calls. Fraudulent use of an authority line is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $25,000 fine, Guillory said.
Although not an admission that he did it, Del. (and Senator-elect) Chris Shank had discussed the idea with others.
The only local Republican to admit some knowledge of the call beforehand was Del. Christopher B. Shank.
Shank said he was part of early discussions about a robocall against Aleshire. However, when state Sen. Donald F. Munson — who lost to Shank in a GOP primary — filed as a write-in candidate less than a week before the election, Shank dropped out of the discussions and focused on his own race, he said. Shank wouldn’t name who else was part of the discussions.
But, referring to the authority line used for the call, he said: “I think there were some unfortunate miscommunications during what people refer to as the ‘Fog of War.’” He would not elaborate.
Shank in defense: Politics is a contact sport.
Shank was the only person contacted for this story who said the robocall allegations were legitimate and fair.
“I didn’t think there was anything misleading about it …,” he said. “Politics is a contact sport.”
B.S! That is what Tea Party people are rejecting—this notion that dirty tricks are allowed in the “fog of war” or in a “contact sport.” Damn it! Just present your positions on issues, work hard reaching voters with your ideas and STOP DIRTY CAMPAIGN TACTICS. We hated it when Democrats like Brien Poffenberger did it against Hagerstown Tea Party founder Neil Parrott and if Chris Shank and a few Republican county central committe friends did it to Democrat Aleshire—shame on him and them!